I started off 2018 with great plans and goals for being an excellent graduate student in my final year of studies. By the end of January my game plan was a failure. I shouldn’t say the plan failed, it was I who failed at it.
I’m not going to beat myself up, play the blame game, or wallow in self-pity. Instead, I’m going to do what is best, and that’s evaluate what went wrong, make corrections, and carry on.
John Maxwell’s book Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success was the first time I learned as an adult that mistakes and failures were part of the process of succeeding in life. My 20’s were a decade of continuous failures without knowing how to dust myself off and continue with life. My errors were self-paralyzing experiences. I associated mistakes as messages from God that I was worthless, and that I would never produce good fruit in my life, after all, a bad tree doesn’t produce any good fruit; well, at least this is what I was taught as a young adult. Bad things happen to bad people, and nothing good comes to people who are not good. Boy was I ever miseducated!
Eventually I learned the truth, that errors are a part of life and a part of having Adult ADHD. Having this disorder means we have to work harder to accomplish certain daily tasks than others. There is nothing wrong with this fact, it is what it is and if we fight this we will most certainly experience more unnecessary failures.
“If we look long enough for what we want in life we are almost sure to find it. Success is in the journey, the continual process. And no matter how hard you work, you will not create the perfect plan or execute it without error. You will never get to the point that you no longer make mistakes, that you no longer fail.” John Maxwell
“God uses people who fail—’cause there aren’t any other kind around.” John Maxwell
This is amazing reassurance. Life is not over, dreams have not ended, and we are not non-redeemable; we know this because God tells us so.
At the end of January I evaluated where I went wrong. I made my classic mistake of over planning, forgetting the value of saying no to things that should have been a priority and yes to things that were not urgent. Most importantly, I thought I could get through the semester without any ADHD medication. According to me, my plan for achieving my goals were so solid I didn’t need any medication. WRONG.
Some how I had forgotten what my student life was like without medication. I was quickly reminded by our instructor that I was being disruptive in class (fidgeting, being late, etc.). By the end of the course term I accepted that success as a graduate student would not be possible for me without medication. Some adults make it through adulthood without any medications, but for some of us, this might not be an option.
The lesson in this disastrous return to graduate school was this: failure is a part of success, it is a part of life, but for crying out loud, don’t create unnecessary failures and obstacles in your life. If you need medication, take them.
“Ninety percent of all those who fail are not actually defeated. They simply quit.” John Maxwell